A significant cultural difference between architecture and many other artistic endeavors is that architecture seeks a lasting contribution to the built environment. Architecture, so entrenched in our everyday experience, is also inescapable.
When we build in the public realm we are confronted by the very fabric of what we make together. A unique medium, architecture is experiential and physically tangible and can suggest permanence. As such, architecture must be shaped in the community context as a collective art with both pragmatic and symbolic purposes. By definition, architecture is a collaborative process, revealing our histories, our present and our future in building forms and functions.
When building in context and by local means, I like to compare the architect's role as the conductor of an orchestra, whose players improvise themes-Just as top jazz musicians do.
Architecture is not frozen music. Our buildings should be warm and populated.
Collaborative leadership is required in the evolution of a form-base that is culturally diverse and understandable to each community. It is important to develop viable solutions in our work. Environmentally appropriate design is not about commerce and branding. In recent years we have seen our city main streets, sub-urbias and ex-urbias eclipsed by name brands, big box retail and other developments including homogenized, large-scale residential subdivisions. Our loci have been reduced to logos; somehow we have eroded and "de-natured” our collective American designs to hype. This is a necessary phase to an emerging and "integral architecture" which reminds us of nature -- our nature, the nature inside us.
It is vital that we seek and foster integral architecture, an inclusive architecture addressing the physical and psychological need for shelter and privacy on many individual and social levels. Integral architecture responds to history, function, form, technology, economics, as well as our need for expression.
Let us work toward a useful architecture which serves the individual and collective need for making wonderful places to be as we are.
-- Niccolo Casewit